Losing a loved one is a difficult and emotional experience that we all must face at some point in our lives. While we cannot bring back those who have passed away, we may want to keep a physical reminder of them. One way to do this is by keeping their ashes. However, for Christians, it is important to understand what the Bible says about keeping ashes and to approach the practice with reverence and respect.
In this blog post, we will explore the biblical references to ashes and the perspectives on keeping ashes found in the Bible. We will also look at historical and cultural perspectives on the practice of keeping ashes, as well as contemporary Christian perspectives. The aim of this post is not to provide a definitive answer on whether keeping ashes is right or wrong, but rather to provide information and insights for Christians to consider when making this personal decision.
While the Bible does not specifically address the practice of keeping ashes, it provides guidance on the importance of respecting the dead and their physical remains. Christians may have differing opinions on the matter, and it is important to approach this topic with sensitivity and understanding. By exploring different perspectives on keeping ashes, we can gain a deeper understanding of the practice and the meaning behind it.
Biblical Perspectives on Keeping Ashes
The Bible does not specifically address the practice of keeping ashes. However, there are examples of people in the Bible keeping physical reminders of their loved ones, such as Jacob mourning the loss of his son Joseph and refusing to be comforted until his death (Genesis 37:34-35). Job also sits among the ashes after his children are killed (Job 2:8-10), and David mourns the death of Saul and Jonathan by fasting and mourning until evening and then burying their bones (2 Samuel 1:11-12).
Furthermore, the Bible places importance on respecting the dead and their physical remains. Leviticus 19:32 instructs the Israelites to “rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.” This can be interpreted as a command to respect and honor the elderly, including those who have passed away.
In addition, burial practices in ancient Israel were important and carefully observed, such as the practice of washing and anointing the body before burial and providing a proper tomb for the deceased.
Finally, the Bible teaches that there will be a resurrection of the body at the end of time. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 describes this as a transformation of the physical body into a spiritual body, and assures believers that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (verse 50). While this does not directly address the practice of keeping ashes, it suggests that the physical remains of a person will not be necessary in the afterlife.
Historical and Cultural Perspectives on Keeping Ashes
The practice of cremation has evolved over time and has been used in many cultures and religions throughout history. In ancient Greece and Rome, cremation was a common practice, and ashes were often kept in urns or scattered in a specific location. In Hinduism, cremation is seen as a way to release the soul from the physical body and allow it to move on to the next life. In modern times, cremation has become more common in the West, and many people choose to keep their loved one’s ashes in an urn, scatter them in a special place, or even turn them into jewelry or art.
There have also been examples of famous people whose ashes were kept, such as writer James Joyce, whose ashes were kept in a Zurich cemetery until 1966, when they were moved to Dublin. The ashes of physicist Richard Feynman were scattered in the mountains of New Mexico, where he loved to hike and stargaze.
Contemporary Perspectives on Keeping Ashes
While cremation and the practice of keeping ashes are not specifically addressed in the Bible, many Christians have different opinions on the matter. Some believe that cremation is not in line with traditional burial practices and may go against the idea of respecting the physical remains of the dead. Others believe that a cremation is a valid option as long as it is done with respect and dignity.
There are many ways to keep ashes, from traditional urns to more unconventional options like jewelry or art. Some people choose to scatter ashes in a meaningful place, such as a favorite beach or mountain, while others keep them in their homes or even wear them in a locket or bracelet.
Overall, the decision to keep ashes is a personal one and should be made with careful consideration and respect for the deceased.
While the Bible does not specifically address the practice of keeping ashes, there are examples of people in the Bible keeping physical reminders of their loved ones, as well as commands to respect the dead and their physical remains. The historical and cultural perspectives on cremation and keeping ashes vary widely, and contemporary Christian perspectives also differ.
Ultimately, the decision to keep ashes is a personal one and should be made with respect for the deceased and careful consideration. Whether one chooses to keep ashes in an urn, scatter them in a special place, or turn them into jewelry or art, it is important to remember that the physical remains are just one small part of the legacy that our loved ones leave behind. As Christians, we can find comfort in the assurance that our loved ones are with the Lord and that we will one day be reunited with them in glory.
As we consider the topic of keeping ashes, it is important to remember that death is not the end. The hope of the resurrection and eternal life gives us comfort and strength in the face of loss and grief. As we mourn our loved ones and honor their memory, let us also look forward to the day when we will be reunited with them in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.